Ruta Gedmintas and Richard Sammel – The Strain
Q) You guys had very creepy scenes in Sunday’s episode. Can you talk about filming that?
Ruta: It was torture, but it was really fun. It was really nice to work with Richard. He’s a brilliant actor. To film these quiet, intense, dark scenes and be friends too, I think it brought us closer together.
Richard: These were the kinds of scenes that you long for as an actor, but once the pages are in front of you, you’re like, “How am I going to do this?” I was kind of thinking about how we’re going to work this out, and you stick to your professionalism. The good thing for me is that something really special happened between me and Ruta. I’m not talking about the creepy stuff. I’m talking about the friendship. Doing those scenes you are able to do them in a professional way when you bond. The confidence was building up little by little and was mixed with dun to get rid of the dark side. We had sessions of drinking beer, or cocktails or ice cream. Sometimes I needed an hour of a hot shower to bring me back to a human place.
Ruta: There were moments when we were filming these intense scenes, and we’d burst out laughing. It was a good faith environment, and afterwards we’d have a good hug.
Q) Can you talk about working with makeup and special effects?
Richard: I remember in the very beginning I was asking myself all the work I have to do, how will I be able to do this on my own? I moved into the trailers with the makeup and special effects and I was surprised that it was already done. A month ahead, they’re already working on your nose, mouth, whatever you need for your scenes. Its quite impressive the preparation they’ve done. So, you just have to jump into the pool and swim. There is a pool, a sun, and towels.
Ruta: I love your metaphors.
Richard: It’s amazing.
Ruta: I hope at some point I’ll get to work with them, but seeing the work that they do they’re real artists. I’m constantly terrified even walking around the set.
Q) Lately, Palmer has been getting on Eichorst’s nerves a lot. Do you feel that he’s a foil for Eichorst and is there tension brewing there?
Richard: There is definitely a tension growing from the very beginning. From Palmer’s POV, Eichorst is a necessary evil. It’s a business relationship, but there are parallels and reasons as to why they are so emotional with each other because they want to go the same path. Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) wants to go the same path as Eichorst did. He needs to do a lot of stuff that was seen in the first season, like the coffin and stuff. The problem with Palmer is that he’s a self made man, he never accepts anyone above him. Palmer, from Eichorst’s POV, he will never get it. If you project yourself into the future, do you really believe that Palmer will be satisfied sharing the CEO with the master? I think Eichorst knows that. It’s vampire politics.
Q) Dutch has been getting some really great action scenes. Do you suppose her hacking skills will come into play again?
Ruta: Well, I don’t know. She’s been learning more life skills, more survival skills throughout the season, and I think that was really important to her world before, the technological. It’s a testimony for what’s going on in her mind – taking it from the macro, and really embrace what’s happening to the world and how she can help with the fight. She has that skill and can use it anytime, hopefully she will.
Q) Did the tragedy of being kidnapped by Eichorst permanently traumatize Dutch? How will she move on?
Ruta: It’s definitely a huge trauma. It would be for anyone. I think that slowly as this season continues and into the next she will have to deal with that experience. It tests her on many levels, on a very dark emotional scrutiny. Her whole being was totally under scrutiny and made her question herself and who she is in this life. Before she even gets to answer those questions, she has to get over the initial terror that happened that at any moment they can get snatched and tortured. It’s a trauma that she’s definitely going to have to deal with.
Q) Those scenes between Dutch and Eichorst were intense, how did you two physically prepare for that?
Ruta: I had to have stunt molds made of my back so that Richard could drag me up the stairs. There’s a scene where he was pulling me along the floor. I remember when I had the mold of my back, and I remember getting the plaster, and when we tested the plaster I had to come out of that. I was walking like a hunchback, and they put me on the floor and pulled me up the stairs, and I was hysterically laughing because of how fun it was. It was quite strenuous on me, and on my skin. The chain around my neck, and just pulling the chain constantly to not choke me gave me huge blisters on my hands so we had to develop these see-through gloves. It was 16 hours chained up to a wall and it was quite difficult.
Q) You guys are active on Twitter and social media. How is it interacting with your fans while watching?
Ruta: It’s so much fun. It used to terrify me a little bit, this connection with strangers. Now I find it a really beautiful thing. You can connect with the people who enjoy the story. I was sitting with my grandmother in Florida, and reading the tweets while watching. Its like being in a big theater watching a horror film, and everyone screams at the same time. It’s so wonderful to hear when people enjoy what you’re working on.
Richard: I started my Twitter for The Strain two and a half years ago because my friends told me it was useful and was another way of communicating with the fans. I enjoy it. I have a lot of stuff to learn, but I have the professionals such as Ruta and Kevin to help me. I’m proud of my 2,600 followers!
Ruta: When we were at Comic-Con, Richard was like a little kid on a field trip. He had his phone out and was recording everything.
Q) Prior to getting into this show, were you fans of the horror genre?
Ruta: I’m such a wimp, I tried to watch 20 minutes of that movie Paranormal Activity, and I said I can’t do this anymore and ran out of the room. I have such a sensitivity to horror, but I enjoy it because its fun. But I can’t sit until the end because I’m a wimp. Watching The Strain has been such a fun experience for me. Seeing the episodes I’m not in has been enjoyable. To watch something like a normal audience member would watch it is entertaining and fun.
Richard: I think this is the right moment to come out. I’m a double, triple wimp. I can’t stand the gore or the frightening thing or whatever. I’m afraid for myself to get a heart attack. I’m sure that all my gray hair is due to all the scary movies I’ve seen. I’m very much into yoga and all this stuff, and I feel how this gore this genre is eating up the good, vital energy I have. I try to stay away from it, but I must admit also that The Strain is a wonderful mix of doing this horror thing, but not taking itself too seriously. The Strain works because its high profile, high level work, but it doesn’t take itself so seriously. You can eat it with popcorn, and you can escape into the fact that it’s all fake! The other thing that helps is that you’ve done it, so you know how it’s done. So I’m able to watch the strain. I adore what my colleagues do. It’s so comforting to see a glimpse of acting. Against my will I will admit that I watch horror movies now.
Q) What was Eichorst’s end game for Dutch if she did not spray him with the pepper spray? What was he going to do with her?
Richard: I would say that it’s a very strong metaphor for what he’s lost. He’s consuming, he’s drinking, he’s nourishing himself. Whether he would kill her or turn her, I tend to think that he would’ve turned her. They would be as valuable on our side. It’s a nice dramaturgical theme – you don’t just kill the enemy. What happened with Dutch, he’s in his own bunker, his own castle. Nobody gets in. Where else but in your own home do you feel completely confident to do what you want to do?
Q) What can fans expect from the last two episode?
Richard: No spoilers. We can’t do any spoilers. It’s so well into what was originally written into the books, but there’s a creation that has a good grip. The whole bow of the second season we will head to is a condensation of conflict. There is more of a reason to believe that the humans who make it, and there are more reasons that you can be convinced that the vampires will make it. There is a condensation and a preparation for a bigger battle. There is something big coming up.
Ruta: I think the finale is one of the most ambitious episodes. It’s definitely going to be a big finale.